How Smart Gas Fuels Smart Cities
The rise of smart cities began with utilities and is spreading across other industries. Cities and municipalities have seen so much progress with cost-cutting and more effective decision-making that they are moving toward smart infrastructures on a wider scale.
Here are the ways smart gas is playing a role in this rapid evolution designed to improve quality of life.
Evolution of Gas Utilities
Natural gas usage for homes and offices is increasing across North America because it's cleaner, more reliable, affordable and efficient than coal. Along with this transition, gas utilities are developing communication networks that connect with a smart grid system. These networks encompass IoT devices that send information on processing to a centralized location where analysts can look for problems that affect productivity, such as pipe corrosion.
While smart technology has already developed with water and electricity utilities, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is now being deployed to facilitate smart gas. Monitoring gas meters in real-time is not only helping customers become more aware of their energy usage, it's also improving safety for utility workers. Sensors can detect gas leaks, which can lead to health problems for workers, as well as energy loss. The fact that they can now be detected right away ensures a safer workplace and less wasted energy.
Traditional gas meters were not always accurate at tracking exact energy usage. Smart gas technologies, however, are more refined and offer a much higher degree of accuracy. Now that the data can be monitored in real-time, it gives utility officials plenty of information to gauge how energy resources can be more efficiently allocated.
A major advantage of a smart utility infrastructure is that it can reduce the problems associated with harsh weather conditions. The built-in alarm systems let both customers and utility workers know when inefficiencies begin to appear in the system. And daily pipe corrosion monitoring allows utilities to take proactive measures that reduce maintenance costs. At one time, this type of maintenance took all day, but it can now be completed in just minutes.
Building a Smarter Future
Gas meters are just the beginning of modernizing city infrastructures, as officials look to upgrade the overall quality of communication networks. Traditional gas meters can still be used by IoT devices and sensors to collect energy data, such as pressure and temperature levels. These systems can also communicate directly with customers or utility personnel, with alarms triggered by technical issues. Many cities, utilities and municipalities are starting with hybrid models and moving toward adding more smart features.
In order for utilities to prepare for the future, in which energy demands will be much higher, they need to invest in a new infrastructure that's easy to upgrade. Smart technology is designed to allow for easy integration with new applications. And the wide range of new technology these infrastructures should support include solid-state gas meters that detect theft and are capable of remote shutoff.
The advent of smart gas meters is helping utilities achieve greater energy efficiency, while giving customers real-time data on their consumption and helping them save money. This technology is being widely adopted and is becoming the new norm. At the core of this transformation are private networks, Big Data and IoT.
To learn more about how smart technologies empower smart cities, check out our technology guide.